Fight with Us, Women, and We Will Emancipate You: France, the FLN and the Struggle Over Women During the Algerian War of National Liberation (1954-1969)

TitleFight with Us, Women, and We Will Emancipate You: France, the FLN and the Struggle Over Women During the Algerian War of National Liberation (1954-1969)
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsSeferdjeli, R.
Date Published2005
UniversityLondon School of Economics and Political Science
CityEngland
Abstract

This thesis is an examination of the way in which Algerian women were incorporated into the war strategy both of the French authorities and the French army as well as that of the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) in Algeria's war of decolonisation. The thesis analyses the various roles played by women during the Algerian war, as well as the circumstances and controversy surrounding their participation. It examines the way the FLN defined, regulated and projected women's participation in the struggle and the ideological discourse is adopted in this regard. On the French side, the study analyses the different measures the French authorities took to encourage women's emancipation during the war, such as the granting of the franchise in 1958, the offering of greater access to education and employment and the more contentious policy of revising the Muslims' personal status. Finally, the study of offers an analysis of the psychological strategy adopted by the French army, which deliberately targeted women in deep rural areas through a mobile network in order to promote their emancipation. Events of particular significance such as the French army's unveiling of Muslim women in public are also examined. This thesis argues that the large-scale involvement in the Algerian war and the effect their participation had on the population prompted the French to initiate a series of measures aimed specifically at women in order to win them over. This in turn provoked a reaction on the part of the FLN who projected the liberation of women through their participation in the struggle. The FLN's projection of the Muslim woman fighter liberated through her participation in the war, as well as French measures that promoted the emancipation of Muslim women, need to be understood in the context of the war and should be viewed as an attempt to win over not only Algerian women but also French and international public opinion.

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